LA Opera Cancels The Marriage of Figaro, Reaches Agreements with Unions and Implements Companywide Cost Reductions
Agreements cover the cancellations of Pelléas and Mélisande, The Marriage of Figaro and community programs
(Los Angeles) April 30, 2020 – LA Opera announced today that it has cancelled all performances of The Marriage of Figaro, originally scheduled for June 6-28, 2020, due to international travel restrictions affecting cast members and larger ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. The company also cancelled the remaining in-person community outreach programs under its Connects banner, including Saturday Mornings at the Opera, scheduled for June 6, and Great Opera Choruses at the Soraya, scheduled for June 7. Having cancelled all performances and events from March 14 through June 28, these cancellations now encompass the remainder of LA Opera’s 2019/20 season. Patrons who purchased tickets for these performances will be contacted by LA Opera regarding the cancellations.
Additionally, the company announced agreements with each of its impacted union partners regarding these, and previous, performance cancellations and is implementing additional cost reduction strategies across the organization, including pay reductions for senior management. The company also set up the LA Opera Relief Fund to help support the artists, artisans and staff negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and corresponding cancellations.
The representative unions impacted by the cancellations include the American Federation of Musicians Local 47 (AFM), American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 33 Stagehands (IATSE), Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Local 706, and Theatrical Wardrobe Union (TWU) Local 768. Union employees hired for Pelléas and Mélisande, which was cancelled on April 10, 2020, were paid in full through the cancellation date, and at 75% thereafter. Those hired for The Marriage of Figaro, which was scheduled to begin rehearsals on May 4, will be paid at 75% per the agreement. Union benefits, which are paid by LA Opera and administered by the unions, will be paid in full.
These settlements also cover all cancelled work under LA Opera Connects’ programming for the community, including the previously cancelled Open Door Days and The Festival Play of Daniel, as well as Great Opera Choruses and Saturday Mornings at the Opera.
“In a health crisis, ultimately the individuals are the ones that will suffer the most,” said John Acosta, President of AFM Local 47. “During this crisis LA Opera has truly demonstrated that its values are centered on the health and wellbeing of its performers.”
Thanks, in large part, to significant support from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, LA Opera is grateful to be able to continue to pay all of its 330 hard-working employees and contractors, which include carpenters, seamsters, electricians, technicians, musicians and others, while the company’s theatres are shut down by the public health crisis.
For the most part, employees in administrative functions continue to work from home uninterrupted. In addition to their regular duties such as finance, technology services, and fundraising, administrative staff have turned their focus to engaging with audiences in their homes through programs such as the new “LAO at Home” offering, which streams both live and recorded content online, and remote Connects activities such as teacher training and programming for patients and their caregivers.
LA Opera implemented additional cost reductions across the organization, including pay cuts exclusively to senior management, ranging from 10-25%, as part of an effort to manage the short-term cashflow and secure its long-term future.
Thanks to the generosity of LA Opera philanthropists, and, in large part to the generosity of donors to the LA Opera Relief Fund, the company was also able to offer support for independent contractors (principal singers, directors, designers) who were not covered under the Paycheck Protection Plan. These performers, who are typically paid at a significantly higher rate than employees, will be paid at 25% of the full value of their agreements, plus union benefits.
“While I regret that we are unable, at present, to bring Angelenos the beauty and cathartic, communal power of opera, I am relieved that that we were able to provide support for our incredible artists and artisans that depend on us for their livelihood,” said Christopher Koelsch, Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and CEO. "I am also deeply grateful to senior team members whose sacrifice underscore their peerless professionalism, dedication, and passion for our work. In our collective effort to protect our most vulnerable team members, share the economic sacrifice with our valued artists, artisans and staff, and continue to preserve the long-term viability of the company, we have collectively determined that that these salary rollbacks are painful, but necessary. We look forward to the day when we can again restore opera to our mainstage and our entire team will be recognized for the outstanding service they provide."
About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be. Through imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions, and inventive productions that preserve foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies.
In addition to its mainstage performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company explores unusual repertoire each season through the Off Grand initiative, performed in a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles.
About LA Opera Connects
LA Opera's robust variety of educational programming and community engagement offerings are as integral to the company's artistic identity as mainstage productions and Off Grand performances. LA Opera Connects currently offers 29 different programs experienced by more than 135,000 people each season. These broad-based engagement programs reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Los Angeles, reaching people throughout every corner of Los Angeles County.
About LA Opera at Home
LAO at Home launched on March 17 with the first in a series of live "Living Room Recitals" featuring artists performing in their homes. Other programming highlights include "Learn at Home (Grown-Up Edition)" opportunities for opera lovers of any experience level to dive deeper into the art form, "Opera Family Time" presentations created especially for families with children to enjoy together (just one example of the many family and school programs offered), "From the Vault" audio-streams of mainstage performances, and "Backstage at LAO" features taking viewers behind the scenes for a look at what it takes to create world-class opera.
About the LA Opera Relief Fund
LA Opera is committed to providing support for the many artists and staff members — numbering anywhere from 200 to 500 people for a typical production — whose work and livelihood have been impacted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The company has established the LA Opera Relief Fund to provide much needed, ongoing relief for those impacted by these cancellations and to help the company continue supporting our valued performers, artisans and staff during this challenging time.
LA Opera Media Contact
Vanessa Flores Waite
Director of Communications